Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt like you deserved something? I don’t mean something that you earned, but an item that you just had to have? Have you ever wanted something like that? Wanted it so bad that you were willing to be stupid to get it? Yeah, this is one of those stories.
Let me take you back to 2002. I have no idea why my sense of entitlement had grown to this level, but I DESERVED a “new” car. This is regardless of the fact that I had a perfectly good truck that was paid off. I had bought Marixa a new car the year before and I felt like it was my turn. I was dumb with a capital D.
I remember going to the dealership. For some unknown reason I wanted a Pontiac Grand Am. (What was that about?) It wasn’t my dream car, but was the flavor of the month I suppose. As we walked around the lot, I spotted a car that I thought I liked. We took it for a test drive. It was the first car I had test driven, at the first dealership we visited, but I had to have it. I still remember the look of uncertainty on Marixa face. That should have been my first clue to abandon my stupid plan and go get some ice cream.
When we return to the dealership it quickly became apparent that we couldn’t afford the monthly payment. I was undeterred. I had sucker written squarely across my forehead. The salesman, doing what salesman do, had a similar car pulled around and said, “How about this one?” We test drove it and purchased it less than an hour later…for a lot more money than it was worth.
My sense of entitlement quickly faded. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I had made a major mistake. This was compounded by the fact that I lost my job less than six months later. I know not only made a bad deal, but it was about to get much worse.
I needed out of that car in a bad way. I remember the day that I drove to a much more honorable dealership and asked them what they would give me for the car. I sold it to them for a $5000 loss. I then asked him if they had any cars for $1000. They pulled around a 1989 Ford Escort hatchback. After the ordeal that I had just put myself through, that car looked like my dream car. (I drove it for three years and could fill it up for 15 bucks. It was a dream car!)
There are a few lessons that I learned out of this experience that I would like to share with you today.
1. Entitlement is a killer. What do we actually deserve? Only what we have earned. Many times, that isn’t as much as we think. If we have to rely on what we deserve, most of the time it’s not going to be very good.
2. When making financial decisions, it is good to have wise counsel. Mine was sitting with me at the car dealership. I should have paid attention. I should have listened to her. If I had, we would not have gotten into that issue.
3. Debt can be used as a tool. However, the majority of time it’s to used to purchase things that we should wait and save for. I was in no position to buy a new car. I had no idea what car I really wanted. I had no money for a down payment aside from my truck which I let go of for a steal. I could blame the dealership (and I did for a while), but it wasn’t their fault. I was the one making choices.
4. I haven’t taken a loan out on a car since then. I may never again. Being in debt for something that loses value is risky. I am not saying it’s wrong, but it is not something I particularly enjoy.
5. What we drive doesn’t really matter in the long run. Yes, I like nice things. But, they are things. If it is reliable and gets me from place to place, it fits the category of a good car.
I pray if you’ve had an experience with entitlement, it did not cost you what mine did. In many ways I would not trade this experience. It has shaped the way I view things today. It made me painfully aware that I never want to feel that way again.Thankfully, I learned from my mistakes.